As much as there’s no perfect SEO vendor, there could never be a perfect SEO client since nobody’s perfect in the first place. Although I believe that argument fuels the learning process, there are disagreements between clients and search marketers that never resolve and lead to unproductive SEO endeavors.
In order to avoid such occurrence, it becomes necessary to identify all possible avenues of such confrontation. One of these is to determine what are the possible groups of people: IT managers and staff, journalists and PR personnel as well as key decision makers as pointed by Shari Thurow.
Clients sometimes have outrageous expectations that would probably never materialize.
“I want first page ranking for car rentals“, quipped one site owner who manages car rental business in a metropolitan city in the United States. Would you like to take the project or tell the client not to expect too much for his five-page website?
The business relationship would have been flowing smoothly if both parties are in the same page. And in order to be in that same page, a common understanding has to be established before delving into usability and search visibility issues. Search marketing is evolving as we speak so it is normal for a client to read an outdated article (say, reciprocal linking works best) and asserts his/her knowledge because s/he has a reference. As we explain to them how that article is no longer applicable through new studies (quoting more recent results and search engine blogs) they would possibly give in to our ideas as we try to widen their horizon of learning.
But there are distinct groups of people who could prove to be difficult SEO clients. They don’t need to be paying clients in our B2B website, but they might be the ones we work with everyday. Clash of principles, touched egos and unwavering belief of their self-imposed mantra are the obstacles of implementing a well-rounded and ideal search engine optimization.
Web Developers and Programmers
In some aspects of the site, web developers prepare the code and programmers lay the backbone of the site. It takes months or even a year to get the whole thing done. I know it because I used to be there before. And then suddenly when I find a problem that needs to get fixed, I find it difficult to express it without acting like I know everything. Whether it is DNS issue affecting how Google indexes the site or a missing field for a page title in the Content Management System (CMS), I always think “why did I fail to mention this before the project started”.
So it is understandable that for a site to work properly, the problem has to be remedied. Even with Subversion (define) packages in place, it’s a tedious job for a developer to go back in the exact spot where the error was reportedly coded and take another route, a route I should have paved way for them to follow in the first place.
There was a time that a simple problem over a client site couldn’t be fixed immediately because nobody was available (or willing) to do the dirty work.
Journalists, PR Executives and Copywriters
Journalists have been doing their job for years and I believe they have developed a methodology of doing things the right way. But perhaps on those years they were spending their careers as journalists or public relations executives, no one was scientifically tracking who among their readers understood the message.
- They are using jargons that are almost exclusively used in the corporate world instead of simpler terms people would use as search terms.
- They stick to the text-only (no links, no HTML) policy when delivering press releases.
- Their articles lack elements of interaction from visitors. There are no “Preview the latest model” or “Subscribe to this e-newsletter” kind of things.
Designers and Project Managers
Project Managers and Designers have close contacts especially in the early days of the project cycle. The term “pick your brains” is often heard because it is the stage where an idea has to be made tangible or visible to say the least. During this stage, they are sometimes influenced by what the client is expecting to see. Clients know what they want but sometimes they don’t know what they need. So we as “professionals” in this field try to fill in the gap and stun them as to what they are missing. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear “Yes! I did not know this is possible” or “You’re the man!” from clients?
Due to time constraints and other factors, projects go ahead without much consultation and research. As the project timelines wear on and site structure begins to form, the search marketer suddenly notices something is wrong and must be fixed. But at this situation the problem is much difficult to solve than those problems encountered with the developers. It is the concept and the elements it used was flawed. So expect the worst for it is yet to come.
The Big Bosses
Sometimes the CEOs, the CFOs and other big names in the company often determine the success or failure of an SEO exercise. They approve and disapprove projects, set budgets, define expectations and impose deadlines. He/She does it because he/she has to ensure the profitability, manageability and timeliness of the project. The project manager can only squeeze tasks together and on many occasions, the online marketing is on the losing end of the pulley.
Worse, sometimes they act like magicians, who thinks everything that revolve around their brain is doable and should be delivered instantaneously. Sorry boss, we’re not employed in a circus.
First of all this is not a whining article. There are different types of people you deal with in your job and as a team, they need to know how their roles affect our roles. Do they impede the impending success? Do they contradict the often preached mantra within the workplace? They need to know and we have to tell them without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Surely people have different views on different things. And it’s a good thing after all. What needs to be done is to bind all these strengths together under a common understanding on how things work and on which don’t work.